Friday, March 11, 2011

Battle: L.A.: Review

 Battle: L.A., well... let's just say it's complicated.

The film that was touted as Blackhawk Down meets Aliens meets ID4; let me be one of the many who have already seen this movie to come out and say that it is no where near the sum of those movies, nor does it come close to even being a truly successful individual film in it's own right. In fact, the movie plays like an awkward amalgam of the better films it borrows from, stitched together by some of the most poorly delivered and trite dialogue this side of Battlefield: Earth.

Basically, the personification of the script.

It's a crying shame too, because somewhere under the unnecessary and inexplicable fluff is a damn good war movie.  The fatal flaw of this film has to be horrendous first 20 minutes. Seriously people, the intro to this movie is so bad that the director and Aaron Ekhart have subtly disowned it and claimed it to be the product of studio interference so that we as an audience could "get to know and care about the characters more."

Listen asshole studio execs: audiences are smart - this medium is not new. Babies can use smart phones. We don't need 20 minutes of forced-fed, half-arsed character back story for EVERY character we catch a glimpse of. WTF is the point? So we "care" more when they die? Each character is so eye-rolling cliche that I rejoiced when one got their face melted.

Look, when I can say "marine best friend of the black marine who is getting married" and I have described the entirety of two MAJOR characters (god knows what their names were), and then I am STILL forced to sit through a 4 minute scene at the beginning of the movie devoted to these two characters talking about picking out wedding themes, it made me angry. It made me anticipate and relish in their deaths - I hate that he picked out taupe for a wedding color.  I hate how the movie then forced itself because of these bullshit introductions to remind us every 45 minutes when a "major character" died of their lost hopes and dreams, and how everyone was feeling.

Oh god the FEELINGS in this movie. Aaron Ekhart deserved better than this; like clockwork, after every action set piece, his character talks about his feelings or tries to give an emotional speech to his beleaguered men. Sorry Ekhart, buddy, but the script failed you. Everyone saw the The Dark Knight, and knows what he can do. Yet in this film, everything that comes out of his damned mouth made me exclaim BOBSAGET in my brain. Then there is his characters' big speech, his "Braveheart" if you will; there is a moment in this speech that is so amazingly bad, that an audience of teenagers at the midnight screening laughed in unison. Honestly, it could go down as one of the absolute worst speeches in cinematic history because of how hilariously non sequitur it becomes.

Oh yeah, there are aliens in the movie. They are cool, I guess. They are not particularly menacing after their initial reveal, as it  became hard to perceive a creature with a sideways testicle for a head as dangerous. Prior to knowing what the hell they are or look like, there are some scenes with genuinely Alien-esque levels of anxiety and dread right when the combat unit takes to the streets of L.A.. The film really turns a corner at this point, seemingly headed back to becoming a good movie. Unfortunately, that level of dread and claustrophobia as the aliens close in is replaced by a series of typical yet effective and pretty looking action scenes, followed by more awkward feelings and hand-holding.

This movie could have been a badass 85-90 minute movie focused solely on a combat unit "in the shit," who try and just survive. The film has it's heart in the right place with what it aspires to be, and even manages to reach certain levels of cool in its emulation,  but it just surrounds those awesome moments with so much stupid and boring character bullshit that the movie is sunk. I was often consciously taken out of the experience to shake my head and wonder what really could have been.

**1/2 (out of 5) 

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